Renault Valencia ban lifted by FIA

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso will get to race at home
Fernando Alonso will get to race at home

Fernando Alonso will race for Renault in this weekend’s European Grand Prix as the FIA quashed the swingeing penalty imposed on the team by the Hungarian Grand Prix stewards.

With Nelson Piquet Jnr dropped by the team, GP2 driver Romain Grosjean is expected to race the second R29 alongside Alonso.

No race ban and a $50,000 fine - too soft or too harsh?

  • Too harsh (10%)
  • About right (56%)
  • Too soft (34%)

Total Voters: 1,446

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The FIA’s decision read:

Renault admitted to the Court that it breached the Sporting Regulations, in that it failed to ensure that car no. 7 complied with the conditions for safety throughout practice and the race, and that it released the car after a pit stop when it was unsafe to do so. However, it requested the Court to reconsider the severity of the sanction imposed by the Stewards.

Having heard the arguments of the parties, the Court has decided as follows:

1. to allow the appeal and overturn the sanction imposed by the Stewards in the Contested Decision;

2. to issue a reprimand and impose a fine of $50,000 upon Renault.

I am somewhat surprised by the leniency of the ultimate punishment. While I thought the FIA would do the sensible thing and let Renault race this weekend, I’m surprised it has come with a heavier fine or at least a suspended sentence, the type of which McLaren got after the Australian Grand Prix.

But then Renault have done well in appeals in the past. Whether they have deserved to or if they just have a good legal team I’ll leave up to you…

84 comments on “Renault Valencia ban lifted by FIA”

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  1. Great decision and the new sanction is far more consistent with the precedent ones.

    In any case we have had to wait some days to know what finally happens… as always.

    1. last year the Spanish grand prix was voted the worst but this year Renault might do the difference

    2. I would argue that the Stewards decisions, and the FIA courts have shown nothing but inconsistency, this decision, while good for the Valencia box office, emphasizes more than ever the need for a permanent team of Stewards to be present at all GP’s, then needless appeals/courts could be avoided.

  2. Excellent decision. Why now is another story.

    1. Sasbus,

      The Reason is pretty clear. No Alonso in Spain would mean a lot of empty seats. It is all about the Benjamins. I am glad to see this I think that the penalty was crazy steep. Guess we get to the the new guy race.

  3. Paul Sainsbury
    17th August 2009, 17:50

    Great news, the original punishment did not fit the crime and seemed a knee-jerk reaction to the awful events of the preceeding 2 weeks.

    Good sense has prevailed here I think.

  4. best news of the month :)

  5. Juanito Guanabacoa
    17th August 2009, 17:58

    Excellent news, besides, this nearly month time off, was a punishment, for all of us :)

  6. Great news of course!

    But $50,000… please, talk about from one extreme to the other. That’s about the price of a used 911.

  7. I really wonder how they are going to try spin the insane embarassment away from the three responsible stewards.

    1. Could not agree more…

  8. Fantastic news and Spain gets to see their hero Alonso again. Another replacement too…good luck Grosjean!:)

  9. This is a ridiculous

    How can you apply a race ban that has a financial penalty or a couple of million and replace it with a 50K fine.

    For whats it worth i have no issue with Renault being allowed to race this weekend (i fact i think they should be able to for the sake of the sport) but the replacemnt penalty should carry the same weight as the orginal penalty.

    At best this makes the FIA own stewards look incompetent at worst it shows little respect for saftey.

    Why does this make me so angrey?
    – We all know that wheels coming off can kill people somthing that has upsettingly been proved this year.
    – Is 50K a real detterant to a team with yearly budget of over 175 Million (I dont really think so)
    – Therefore would a team take a risk and allow a car to leave the pits without the wheel securely attached (hoping it will stay on) in order to gain/matain a spoting advantage knowing that it will cost them 50K (quite possiably yes)

    My rant continues….

    On a side note have you noticed that nearly all after race penalty’s are then appealed that tells me teams have little respect in the current stewards system and this judgement is only going to confirm this view meaning that we are all going to be subject to these huge waits to know what the true punishments are why the court of appeal looks into everything. (also why do appeals take so long to go through the system lets be honest here how busy is the motorsport appeal court really??)

    1. I agree with you. The frustrating thing is that the $50k fine shows just as much consistency as the original penalty. If there was any logic to the original penalty (which there was) than this absolutely discredits it.

      Losing a wheel at race speeds is much more serious than a wheel hanging off a Red Bull under safety car. If RB got fined $50k, then surely Renault deserve much more

      1. and a grid penalty

    2. It’s not only the teams that have little respect for the stewards I would have thought most fans have little respect for them either.

      Regarding punishments I think consistency is important and if you are going to make changes you should announce it beforehand not just to the teams but to the public also.

      I thought the race ban was too harsh but I agree with other comments here that to go from a race ban to a £50,000 fine is a big difference. To a F1 team this isn’t really much money and won’t act as a deterrent.

      This has reminded me of Valencia last year when Ferrari were fined €10,000 for the unsafe release of Massa’s car after a pit stop, people also said that was lenient and wouldn’t act as a deterrent.

      Has anyone done an analysis of recent F1 penalties such as what teams can expect if X happens, and how many of the penalties are actually written in the rules and how much is up to the judgement of the officials. For example pit lane speeding during practice is a fine but during the race is a drive through, am I correct in thinking these punishments are actually written in the rules.

  10. Well it gave us something to talk about during the 4 weeks off; that and Schumacher. Good decision.

  11. Mark Hitchcock
    17th August 2009, 18:37

    What a surprise.

    Having agreed with the decision to ban them at first, I changed my mind over the last few weeks and don’t particularly mind them being allowed to race.
    But a $50,000 fine is ridiculous.
    Even if the ban wasn’t necessary is was presumably imposed to send a message to Renault and the rest of the grid that they need to be very sure the car is safe to be released onto the racetrack.
    But the only message this U-turn and relatively tiny fine sends out is that you can release a dangerous car onto the track if you want as long as you’ve got good enough lawyers and it’s your star driver’s home race next meeting.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      17th August 2009, 18:40

      Again this is an issue of inconsistency with the stewards.
      I don’t really mind what they do, no matter how harsh or lenient as long as they are consistent so everyone knows where they stand.

      1. It was also inconsistant with previous decisions for similar offences. It was viewed by many as a knee-jerk reaction after the two freak accidents and after the heads cooled the court of appeal brought the right decision.

        1. Mark Hitchcock
          17th August 2009, 22:58

          I understand that, and as I said I changed my mind about whether the ban was right or not.
          I still think the team did something seriously wrong and needed to be punished. The ban was too harsh and possibly a knee-jerk but could have set a precedent that would make other teams think twice in a similar situation in future. Lifting the ban was arguably right, but giving them such a lenient penalty as a replacement was not right at all. And that’s the inconsistency I’m talking about.

          Yes the original ban was inconsistent with the way stewards dealt with incidents like this in the past, but that’s because in the past they have made even worse decisions by ignoring things like Kimi’s exhaust.
          Like I said, I don’t care whether they’re lenient, susceptible to knee-jerk reactions or very harsh. All they need to do is be consistent.
          This decision is anything but consistent.

      2. Thats why the stewards should be people who understand the sport and not a bunch of idiots from counbtries that dont even produce cars, much less race cars.
        The stewards should also be above the politics of the day. They shouldnt be going around trying to muster support for Max or anyone else and should only be concerned with is the car legal for the sport.
        As far as them sending the car out with the whell not tightned properly, they paid the ulimate fine when the car had to come back in on 3 wheels. and lost all the time it did.

        1. Mark Hitchcock
          18th August 2009, 16:57

          not a bunch of idiots from counbtries that dont even produce cars, much less race cars.

          What a stupid thing to say. Just because someone comes from a country that doesn’t produce or race cars doesn’t mean they don’t understand racing.

          they paid the ultimate fine when the car had to come back in on 3 wheels. and lost all the time it did.

          They were lucky that’s all that happened. The wheel could easily have struck another car, another driver, a marshal etc.
          To let them off so easily is to ignore the lessons learnt from the Surtees and Massa accidents.

          1. obviously it does and has for a long time now.

  12. 50,000$$ is very cheap. I would have fined them 25 million dollars. alonso’s underpants will fetch more than 50,000 $ at an auction at valencia. anyway we get to see alonso’s tank race around the streets of valencia for a good bargain. renault must thank their stars.

    1. alonso’s underpants will fetch more than 50,000 $ at an auction at valencia.

      only you would pay that much.

      The fine is consistent with what others have been hit with.
      25million is rediculous, the venom of the McLaren’s fine has come out again. (By the way, I think the fine McLaren had to pay was rediculous also)

    2. in my opinion the fine shouldn’t have even been a financial one, nor one that relates to them being banned for the race.

      The fine could have been related to the constructors points in some way. For example, the initial fine could have been that Renault will have part of its constructors points removed for the next race. Renault made a penalty when they allowed Alonso to keep driving the car around the track on 3 wheels. I think something relating to the removal or restriction of points for the next race could have been implemented.

  13. How predictable. Now we just have to wait for Romain Grosjean to be named as 2nd driver.

    But I think it’s written in the stars that the two Renault’s will take each other out at the first corner!

    1. But I think it’s written in the stars that the two Renault’s will take each other out at the first corner!

      wow!! i dream of it everynight, two renaults crashing into each other. in the dream this crash happens over the bridge & one of the renault is thrown into the mediterranean sea. i also see the fisherman retrieving the car using their fishing net. not sure which renault it is though. if my intuitions are to be trusted, i see one of the renault falling into the sea.

  14. I have to agree with everyone here so far.INCONSISTENCY.One race ban OR a $50,000 fine?!The stewards and the FIA’s ‘PER RACE’ rules are a joke.

    But,I am happy that Alonso is racing…and I am sure most of Spain is too.

  15. Oh what a surprise!

  16. i would like to know for many more years will we have to put up with these ugly looking cars? another 10 maybe? even my great-grandmother, who’s 105, is easily able to differentiate the 2009 cars from the 2008. & she also asks me whether these are real cars or just photographs of toys. she also pointed out the disproportion in the front & rear wings & thought those looked weird.

    1. I feel the same way about the 2008 cars. It’s like someone barfed a boatload of scrap pieces of carbon all over the cars and was unable to remove them.

      The 2009 cars might be less balanced, they look much much better than the 2008 ones.

      1. yeh, the 09 have really grown on me now. i used to like the complexities on the cars (not so much now) but now the rear wings look tiny. i think the red bull (post silverstone) looks the best and looks in proportion now with the larger nose.
        and to keep it relevant, fantastic alonso is racing this weekend. i was worried the crowd would go nuts being deprived of schumacher and their home hero. that would be insanely bad for the sport.

    2. & she also asks me whether these are real cars or just photographs of toys.


  17. While I agree about the lifting of the race ban, 50k sounds too little compared to other fines IMHO. But I’m happy for the spanish crowd (and hope that there won’t be negative press this time because of 2 or 3 idiots) :)

  18. Grace Lovvorn
    17th August 2009, 21:05

    My theory for this decision is something called, I don’t know, MONEY. Since everyone’s let down about Schumi’s false comeback, they definitely won’t be going to Valencia, especially if their dear Fernando isn’t there. So, no Alonso+no Schumacher+Valencia=Epic Failure. And the FIA FINALLY got that through their thick heads! They don’t want a bunch of empty seats (although it is Valencia…you shouldn’t expect much) and a few riots/protests.
    So, they let Renault off the hook. And for the $50,000 fine? Please. Fernando and Flava Flav probably spend that much on champagne and/or supermodels every night. Just saying…

  19. I’m amazed that most people think this $50,000 fine is “just about right”.

    I wonder how these things work though. I envision a bunch of Renault lawyers talking for hours about how it was unfair and a shy FIA offical is put forward to explain in 5 minutes how it was fair.

    1. Ah ok, I see James Allen compares this to the fine that Red Bull got for letting Vettel continue for an extra lap with his broken car. Guess that makes sense.

      Although in this case I still say they deserve more punishment for their faulty pit stop procedures. Not a race ban, but this calculated risk should be punished severely enough to make sure next time they sway calculations to err on the safe side.

  20. This sport is a joke. $50k fine, is pocket change. Why are there two extremes? Race ban, (gravely serious) then Renault get to pay for the after race drinks round.

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